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why do they drain the erie canal

Rochester, NY в The 180th season of navigation on the Erie Canal came to a close Wednesday, as crews lowered lock gates in Rochester to cut the canal off from the Genesee River. That allows the sections of the canal east and west of Rochester to empty out for the Winter. Bill Clifford is Superintendant of the Rochester Canal Section. He says the this part of the Erie canal is drained to avoid ice damage, especially on the section from Rochester west to Lockport. That 63-mile stretch is largely above the level of the surrounding land, and heavy ice could actually punch through the embankments in that area. Closing also gives the Canal Corporation a chance to inspect and repair any damage.


The eastern control lock gates can be seen off I-390 on the edge of the University of Rochester campus The western lock is off Genesee Park Boulevard. They were built between 1915 and 1919, and Clifford says the 90-year old electric motors that power them tend to be cantankerous. Each part of the lock systems and their controls now have to be hand made in the Canal Corporation's shops. Work crews braved Wednesday morning's rain and strong wind gusts on top of the 24-foot tall lock gates to make sure the motors and old 600 volt DC electrical circuits were operating. Then the lock tenders repeatedly winched the 40-ton steel gates up and down, a little lower each time, until they finally dropped in place on the canal floor.


Massive concrete couterweights rise as the gates come down, accompanied by the grinding motors and steel sliding against steel. Lock tenders squirt oil on the 54-foot wide gates to help them slide down the steel rails that guide them. Bill Clifford says these locks were once tended 24 hours a day. In the days before the Mount Morris and Court Street Dams were built, the Genesee River used to constantly rise and fall. Every canal boat had to go through the locks to be raised or lowered to the current level of the River before they went through the junction of the canal and the river in Genesee Valley Park.


Since the dams were built, Clifford says the locks only operate in the Fall to close the canal off, and in the Spring to open it again for the next season.
A few questions. Why do they drain the Erie Canal for the winter? Why does it not refill itself from the countless streams, Lake Oneida backflow, and the Genesee River? Also, I caught a 24 inch catfish last year while carp fishing in Tonawanda. Anyone ever target them in this far western end; Im wondering if its worthwhile? And finally, although Ive never pulled it off, shortly after filling, walleye can be taken in Lockport, just below the locks. So, and I guess the answer will be speculation, but since it was just filled, where do these yellows come from.


Do they perform a lightning speed race from Lake Oneida, do they spill through the locks after traveling the 20 miles or so from the Upper Niagara, or do they migrate from the Genesee? I dont have the answers to your questions. never really thought about it! But I would be interested in knowing too!! As for the part where you speak of walleye. are you refering to the area imediately below the lock, or over in the Wide Waters area, or somewhere else? I have never had much walleye luck in the canal but a friend of mine that fishes the canal east of us has pulled some pretty big ones out of it!

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